How Sustainable Investing Can Help Solve Climate Change with Zach Stein, Carbon Collective

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Hosted by
Ron Kamen

Ron Kamen has decades of expertise & leadership in catalyzing exponential change in sustainable energy adoption with communities, governments, non-profits, and businesses.

Quantum Quote: “You can’t climb a mountain if it’s smooth.” -Andre Iguodala

Investing is one of the primary ways to secure a better financial future for you and your family. But, did you know that where we bank and how our investments are managed can greatly impact our carbon footprints? 

Our finances, including our retirement funds, are not charity. Ensuring that these are properly invested is a must. 

Carbon Collective provides the opportunity to ensure that our investments not only build a better future for us, but also for our planet. As part of its mission, we have the power to create a zero-carbon society by forcing major corporations to transition and decarbonize faster through your investments.

Make the right choice. Invest with impact. Save our planet.

Zach Stein is the co-founder of Carbon Collective, the first investment advisory firm focused solely on solving climate change.

Zach’s entrepreneurial journey began with his hands on the ground, well, more accurately, in poop. He founded Urban Worm, a Bay Area worm composting farm that took free waste products– horse manure and apple pulp– and turned them into premium compost that sold for $20 a gallon.

This urban agriculture base led Zach into the world of indoor farming, raising leafy vegetables and fish in controlled environments. He teamed up with James Regulinski to launch Osmo Systems, an innovative sensor/monitoring platform that would enable first indoor farmers and then the broader world of fish and shrimp farming to detect key aspects of their water quality for 1/10th the cost. They raised over $4m from top-tier VCs to commercialize the tech.

Now, Zach and James are scaling Carbon Collective and rapidly expanding their offerings, team, and member base.

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SuperNova #1. So often, when it comes to climate change, individuals get stuck in a loop of “I’m terrified, emotionally. And I don’t know what to do. I see these lists, and it’s like you have to do everything.”  How should we prioritise that? What we found to be a really helpful framework is focusing on the big things, like the gears of your life that run in the background, focus where it’s a weighty decision to make a change, but once you make it, you’re done, and you just get to go on living your life. One simple example is where you keep your money.

SuperNova #2. Remove the really big rocks first. And then you can kind of take a breath and re-establish.

SuperNova #3. If you don’t have effective teamwork, then you aren’t going to be successful, or it’s very hard to be successful. Invest in the team, and put that front and center.

AHA! Moment: I’ll share like, from fairly early on, we ended up doing 120 interviews with folks to try and understand where their climate anxiety took them and where they got blocked. This was before we knew that Carbon Collective was going to be an investing company. We set up all these elaborate demos to try to walk people through a simulation of what it could be. In our first interview, this guy says, “Hey, this was fine, but you really should read this book called the “Mom Test”. We’re like, “What’s the Mom Test?” It is the best book I’ve ever read for people who are looking to see if a particular product should exist. It teaches you how to interview, where you go, and how to dig for past behaviors. When you dig for the why of their behavior, you see where people got blocked. 

Best Advice He’s Ever Received: “Learn. So long as you’re learning you’re on the right path.” -Zach Stein

Personal Habit that Contributes to Success: “Making sure I get good sleep, which has been really hard with a five-month-old.” -Zach Stein

Internet Resource: Loom

Magic Wand: “I think I would re-establish our deep human connection to nature and that we’re a part of it. I think that if that happened across the world, so many of our environmental problems, in addition to climate change, we would just feel so much of the pain that is happening that we wouldn’t need to do anything to solve it. It would just happen.” -Zach Stein

WTF Moment: “I lived through the orange day in San Francisco in the Bay Area. This was during fire season. I, at the time, was waking up with the sun at seven am. There was a skylight right above my bed. It was so dark- I woke up at 10 am. It was the weirdest day I’ve ever been in. My wife, and I had recently bought a home in the Bay Area and we looked at each other and were like, “Did we make a huge mistake?” -Zach Stein

Most Energized About Today: “Honestly, I’m really energized about my kid. He’s in such a cute phase. Whenever I see him, he smiles at me. It’s incredible!” -Zach Stein

Parting Advice: “So long as you’re learning, you’re on the right path. And just trust that that’s going to take you there.” -Zach Stein

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